2017 Australian Rally Champion, Nathan Quinn, will make his debut in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship at the ENEOS International Rally Whangarei, to be held from 4-6 May.
The popular Australian rally personality from Coffs Harbour will drive a Ford Fiesta R5, prepared and run by Auckland based Neil Allport Motorsport at the Whangarei event. The rally is also the opening round of the 2018 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), bringing an added attraction for Quinn of international competition to an already strong national championship field. Quinn will be teamed with experienced Kiwi co-driver David Calder, the pair having competed regularly together throughout the Asia Pacific region over the last five years.
Quinn is excited at the prospect of a fresh challenge following securing the Australian Rally Championship title in 2017. “The growing strength of the NZ Rally Championship (NZRC) is highly regarded and widely followed around the world currently. With around ten different vehicle manufacturers represented in the NZRC, it brings a great deal of excitement, interest and engagement from fans and sponsors alike”, says Quinn.
He sees the opportunity to come and compete in the NZ Rally Championship as a “reverse Possum Bourne” after the late NZ rally icon successfully campaigned for several years in the Australian championship, following his NZ Rally Championship title.
“Possum was a very successful driver and popular sporting personality on both sides of the Tasman, and someone I respected greatly growing up around Rallying. Lifting the Possum Bourne Memorial Trophy after winning the ARC brought home how special his achievements were and what he meant to myself and many others as a young rally fan. To be able to emulate to some degree what he did for the sport in Australia, over here, would be an honour’’, commented Quinn while in NZ for a brief test last week.
The opportunity to drive a WRC2 specification Ford Fiesta locally is also unique to New Zealand. The Fiesta R5 is the most successful car in its category, competing in the WRC, regional and national championships around the world. “It’s no secret Quinny has been looking at opportunities to drive a world specification rally car again since he successfully made his debut in a World Rally Car in 2013”, says co-driver David Calder.
Quinn is aiming to campaign the Fiesta R5 in the WRC2 category of his local round of the World Rally Championship in November, Kennards Hire Rally Australia, where he can benchmark himself against some of the world’s best drivers in equal machinery on home soil. Although the Whangarei round of the NZRC is the only confirmed event for Quinn currently, he would love to contest further rounds in New Zealand if the necessary funding support can be generated.
“Currently our focus is on the opportunity in front of us at the ENEOS International Rally Whangarei”, comments Quinn. “We need to see how that all plays out. There is plenty to adjust to in driving the Fiesta R5 but initial impressions of the car at a short familiarisation test last week are positive. We are certainly looking forward to racing against current Hyundai WRC driver Hayden Paddon, someone I respect immensely. I’m under no illusion as to the challenge Rally Whangarei will provide. The opportunity to compete against a proven world championship driver of Hayden’s calibre doesn’t come along often”, says Quinn. Further, Japan’s Cusco Racing entry and a host of leading NZRC drivers will provide tough competition for the Aussie champ.
Having previously only contested the event in 2011 as part of an Asia Pacific Cup campaign in his production Mitsubishi, Quinn will need to get up to speed on the unique roads quickly to challenge for a podium spot at the finish.
“I’m excited to be a part of the NZRC and grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received to cross the ditch and compete in New Zealand.”
The 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship is proudly supported by Brian Green Property Group, Gull New Zealand, Dunlop New Zealand, Hella New Zealand and Stadium Finance.